Expansion of Holland Village

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Dear Village Friends,

Extension of Holland V on the way

Earlier this year, the URA has put up for tender a plot of land along Holland Road for commercial and residential development.  The area is approximately 23,000 sq metre and it is located right behind Lorong Mambong. A new street, Holland Village Way, will also be created.

The 23,000 sq metre land parcel behind Lorong Mambong designated for development. (Image source: URA website)

URA describes the  development as complementing the existing allure of Holland Village, as follows:

“Holland Village is one of Singapore’s most distinctive lifestyle destinations set amidst winding narrow lanes and low-rise shophouses. It has an urban village feel distinguished by its laid-back daytime allure contrasted with a magnetic dining scene at night. Residents and visitors alike currently mingle, socialise and celebrate amidst the wide-ranging and eclectic mix of shops and restaurants in the area that contributes to Holland Village’s unique place identity.

In line with the announced Holland Village Extension plans, URA is now offering a unique opportunity to grow Holland Village and extend the Identity Node with a new, mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented development that would add to the vibrancy of Holland Village as a great place to live, work and play.”

Sale site according to URA drawing (Image source: URA website)

The tender document describes the requirements that the successful tenderer must abide by. These requirements include parameters for design, land use, outdoor refreshment areas, building form and height, street-scape, pedestrian malls and bridge, park, greenery, landscape, vehicle parks, etc.

URA also said:

“This mixed-use development will offer more retail and dining options to reinforce the area’s buzz, while also providing select residences for people who wish to live in the heart of Holland Village.

The quality of the public realm is central to the new extension of Holland Village with a network of pedestrianized streets and public spaces that connect seamlessly with the surrounding lorongs and the housing estate beyond. The development will build on and reinforce the continual success of Holland Village while creating new community spaces for people to gather and interact.”

Download the entire tender specifications here to have a good understanding of what is going to happen to the Village. This will give you some idea on how to plan your retailing strategy (since there will be more shop space created) beforehand.

Watch the URA video here on its vision of the Village.

Advice to URA and the developer

Many retail establishments who have been in the Village long enough had wondered how well will the development complement the existing personality of the Village. Or will the development actually be detrimental to the Village’s character.

For Holland V to stand out among the many entertainment venues in Singapore, it has not only to retain its essence but also to market it as such. Therefore, the successful developer and URA has the opportunity to bring this out and make the Village’s unique essence more apparent to ensure successful differentiation for its retail establishments.

For the developer to do this, the essence of the Village must be understood. There are a number of dimensions to this, such as its colonial and Dutch influence, and its “Bohemian” character. These qualities have been eroded over the years and many have said that Holland Village is not as exciting as it was.

Despite this, it is this special personality that still attracts all types of people to Holland Village, especially expatriates. It is not just the laid-back atmosphere. It has a history and tradition that gives it a uniqueness that cannot be found elsewhere. This is the Village’s true value to her visitors and regular patrons. And it is this special quality that also attracts tourists to Holland Village (Holland Village is listed as an “attraction” on TripAdvisor and among the list of top “10% of things to do in Singapore”).

However, these elements are not apparent in the extended section as shown in the URA video. There is nothing Dutch, colonial or “bohemian” in the artist impression of the new structures, buildings and pedestrian walkways.

It does appear that the URA is turning the Holland V extension into another “vibrant mall” similar to the other modern malls all over Singapore.

The Village is an international enclave, a place with its own cross-cultural character and history. People come here to experience this difference. It has its own human warmth that gives it a village feel, which is distinctive from the cold retail energy seen in every local shopping mall.

Here is an old video of the owner of Serenity Cove, Patricia Broomfield, sharing her 12-year experience doing business in the Village and what makes the Village so special.

I would also like to suggest an article here that may give some idea of “Bohemianism” that Holland Village is famous for: Is Holland Village Bohemian by Any Chance?

Perhaps the URA would like to consider injecting features that will reflect the unique character and friendliness of the Village?